Title: Empowering legal fisheries in future Montenegrin MPAs

Country: Montenegro

MPA: Future MPAs Ratac, Katič, Platamuni, Stari Ulcinj

Beneficiary: Mediterranean Center for Environmental Monitoring (MedCEM)

Partners: Montenegrin Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; NGO Green Home; Institute for Marine biology in Kotor (IBMK); Kornati National Park and Nature Park Telaščica (Croatia), Nature Park Strunjan (Slovenia), Miramare and Torre Guaceto MPA (Italy)

Thematic: Sustainable management of fisheries in MPAs

Period of implementation (year): 2018-2019

Duration: 12 months

Total budget: 26 000 €

MedPAN financing: 19 500 €

Context

Although the National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan of Montenegro (2016-2020) includes an action targeting the declaration of coastal marine protected areas, the country still has no declared Marine Protected Area (MPA) to date. Nevertheless, an aspect which is considered essential for the development of MPAs in Montenegro is stakeholder engagement, in particular of professional and artisanal fishers. On the one hand, the authorities must have the support of local fishers to make future MPAs effective, on the other hand, local fishers must have confidence in government interventions and fisheries regulations to follow them. However, fishers currently lack information about the practical application and functioning of MPAs and their potential impacts on fisheries.

MedPAN’s Small Project

This project aimed to raise the awareness of local fishers on the functioning of MPAs, the benefits they can draw from it, and the role they can have in the establishment and management of MPAs in Montenegro. The project was designed around the education of fishers from four sites that have the potential to become Montenegrin MPAs: Platamuni, Katič, Ratac and Stari Ulcinj. Experience sharing activities were organised with managers and fishers of MPAs in Turkey (Gökova MPA), Croatia (Kornati National Park and Nature Park Telaščica), Slovenia (Nature Park Strunjan), and Italia (MPA Torre Guaceto). The project had for specific objective to improve the relationship between fishers and representatives of the Montenegrin Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, to facilitate their cooperation in view of the establishment of MPAs in the country.

Key output

Exchange of experience

Several workshops were organised, with guests scientists and MPA managers, to allow Montenegrin fishers to learn more about the functioning of MPAs. In particular, the example of the fishing community involvement in the management of the Gökova MPA in Turkey, was presented.

Presentation by Dusan Varda at the 1st workshop “Sustainable fisheries - fight against illegal fishing“ (Photo by Djordje Kovjanić)
Presentation by Dusan Varda at the 1st workshop “Sustainable fisheries – fight against illegal fishing“ (Photo by Djordje Kovjanić)

In addition, three exchange visits were organised in functional MPAs in the Adriatic to allow Montenegrin fishers to interact with other fishing communities and MPA managers. A total of 15 fishermen benefited from the exchange visits to Torre Guaceto MPA (Italy), Nature Park Strunjan (Slovenia) and Telašćica (Croatia). Visits included National Parks by boat with local fishers, fishing villages, local fish markets, fishing fleet, fishing gear shops, a fish stock market in Trieste, museums of traditional fisheries, turtle rescue centres.

Visit of a seafood market near Bari, during the excursion in Italy
Visit of a seafood market near Bari, during the excursion in Italy

By creating a time and space for fishers to discuss among colleagues, the project offered them a chance to change their perspective on MPAs. In particular, it made them realise that MPA development can result in a win-win situation where all stakeholders benefit.

Communication

Three brochures explaining fishers’ rights were translated into Montenegrin:

  • “Regional plan of action for small-scale fisheries in Mediterranean and Black Sea (RPOA-SSF)”, FAO & GFCM 2018.
  • “Fishery activities assessment in Montenegro: Case study of five selected parts of Montenegrin coast”, RAC/SPA – UNEP/MAP 2013.
  • “Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries”, FAO 2015.

The brochure format was selected to offer clear, concise and translated content, thereby reachable for fishers.

In addition, a Community Voice Video was prepared, consisting of interviews of fishers sharing their understanding of the resource’s status, the main challenges they are facing and their view on the potential benefits of MPA creation. This video was based on a methodology developed by the English association Marine Conservation Society. It was then screened for the local authorities, so that they can establish management measures adapted to fishers’ needs and direct their actions to gain the adhesion of local fishers.

Recommendations

Although participation of fishers in workshops and exchange visits was challenging due to other commitments they had, their participation in these activities ultimately had a strong impact on their understanding of MPAs functioning, increasing their desire to organise themselves and strengthen their arguments to make their rights respected.

Experience-sharing activities like the workshops and field visits successfully enhanced the involvement of fishers in MPAs management.

Exchanges among fishers from different regions in Montenegro and countries in the Adriatic has highlighted the existence of localised issues and therefore the need to develop fisheries management plans adapted locally.

The project beneficiary recommends the use of satisfaction survey to understand the perspective of participants to the excursions and improve their format over time.

What’s next

The results of this project will be used to push for the law to officially recognize MPAs in Montenegro.

The fishers, when back from the field visits in other Adriatic countries, decided to organise themselves developing a fishers association and requesting the establishment of a fishing restricted area. With the help of this project, they gained in motivation and chose to design actions for a better management of fisheries and a valorisation of their work. They became actively involved in the development of future MPAs.

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